Award Was Given to Most Outstanding Player, As Judged By Fellow Players

Published on June 1st, 2023 12:06 am EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

Wayne Gretzky was practically unstoppable in 1985/86 season. During the 1985-86 regular season, Wayne Gretzky put together the finest season of his career, notching 52 goals and 163 assists for a total of 215 points.

Despite setting the record for most points EVER in a single regular season campaign, Gretzky's peers decided that he wasn't the most outstanding player in the league.


The Lester B. Pearson Award, now known as the Ted Lindsay Award, is given annually to the most outstanding player as judged by the members of the NHLPA.

After the 1985-86 regular season, most people assumed that Gretzky would easily winning another Lester B. Pearson award. After all, he was clearly the best player in the league, and the Edmonton Oilers were practically unstoppable.

Not so fast.

The award, shockingly, went to Mario Lemieux, who finished WELL behind Gretzky with 141 points.

Gretzky was a +71 on the season, while Lemieux was a -8.

Gretzky EASILY won the Hart Memorial Trophy that season, collecting 54 of the 60 first-place votes.

Lemieux, on the other hand, only received 4 first-place votes for the Hart trophy.

The Lester B. Pearson Award, on the other hand, went in a completely different direction, as Gretzky's peers decided that Lemieux was actually the most outstanding player that season.


So, what happened? Why didn't Gretzky win the award in 1985-86, despite being clearly the league's best player?

The most common theory floated is that Gretzky's fellow leaguemates were simply tired of his success by that point, and retaliated by given the Pearson award to Lemieux.


The players of the league usually get the outstanding player award right, but that certainly wasn't the case in 1985-86.

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